Junker Heinz Sir Harry
In three acts by KARL VON PERFALL.
Text after Hertz's poem: Henri of Suabia by FRANZ GRANDOUR.
This opera composed recently by the Superintendent of the Royal Opera
in Munich, has made its way to the most renowned stages in Germany,
which proves that the composition is not a common one.
Indeed, though it is not composed in the large style to which we are
omed from hearing so much of Wagner, the music is
interesting, particularly so, because it is entirely original and free
from reminiscenses.--There are some little masterpieces in it,
which deserve to become popular on account of their freshness; wit and
humor however are not the composer's "forte" and so the first act, in
which the vagabonds present themselves, is by far the least interesting.
The libretto is very well done; it has made free use of Hertz's pretty
The scene is laid in the beginning of the 11th century. The first act
lands us near Esslingen in Suabia, the two following near Speier.
Three swindlers concoct a plot to acquire wealth by robbing the
Emperor's daughter. To this end, one of them, Marudas, a former clerk,
has forged a document, in which the Emperor of Byzantium asks for the
hand of Agnes, daughter of Conrad, Emperor of Germany, who just
approaching with his wife Gisela, is received with acclamation by the
citizens of Esslingen. Soon after, the three vagabonds appear in
decent clothes, crying for help; they pretend to have been attacked and
robbed by brigands. Boccanera, the most insolent of them wears a
bloody bandage round his head. The document is presented to the
Emperor, who turns gladly to his wife and tells her of the flattering
offer of the Greek Prince. After he has ordered that the ambassador be
taken good care of, the Emperor is left alone with his wife. She
tenderly asks him why he always seems so sorrowful and gloomy, and
after a first evasive answer, he confides to his faithful wife what
Twenty years ago he gave orders to kill a little infant, the son
of his deadliest enemy, Count of Calw, his astronomer Crusius having
prophesied, that this child would wed the Emperor's daughter and reign
after him. The remembrance of this cruelty now torments him, but
Gisela consoles her husband, hoping and praying that God will pardon
the repentant sinner. During this intercourse, a young man comes up,
entreating the Emperor to read a document, which was given to the youth
by his dying uncle and destined for the Emperor. As Conrad reads it,
he learns that this youth is the child, he would have had killed years
ago and who was carried to the forester-house and brought up there.
The Emperor and his wife thank Heaven that they have been spared so
dreadful a sin, but Conrad, afraid of the prophesy, determines to send
the young man, who is called Junker Heinz, away. He gives him a
document, in which he orders Count Gerold, governor of Speier, to give
his daughter to the three ambassadors of the Emperor of Byzantium.
In the second act we see Agnes, the Emperor's daughter, working and
singing with her damsels. She is well guarded by old Hiltrudis, but
the worthy lady is obliged to leave for some days and departs with many
exhortations. Hardly has she gone, than all the working-material
disappears, and the maidens begin to sing and frolic. The appearance
of Junker Heinz frightens them away. Heinz, who has ridden long,
thinks to take a little rest, now that he sees the towers of Speier
before him. He stretches himself on a mossy bank and is soon
asleep.--Shortly afterwards the Princess Agnes peeps about with her
companion Bertha. She is highly pleased with the appearance of the
strange hunter, and seeing him asleep, she gazes at him, until she
insensibly falls in love with him. Observing the document which the
stranger has in his keeping, she takes and reads it, and disgusted with
its contents throws it into the fountain, quickly fetching another
parchment which was once given to her by her father, and which contains
both permission to wish for something and her father's promise to grant
When Heinz awakes, and finds the loveliest of the maidens beside him,
he falls as deeply in love as the young lady, but their tender
interview is soon interrupted by the blowing of hunter's horns.
In the third act Count Gerold, who has come with a suite, to accompany
the Princess on a hunt, is presented with the Emperor's document by
Heinz, who cannot read and who is wholly ignorant of the change which
Agnes has made. Though greatly astonished at the Emperor's command to
wed Agnes to the bringer of his letter, Count Gerold is accustomed to
obey, and Heinz, who first refuses compliance with the strange command,
at once acquiesces, when he sees that his lady-love and the Princess
are one and the same person. About to go to church, they are detained
by the Emperor, who scornfully charges Heinz with fraud.
But when Count Gerold presents the document, his scorn turns on
Agnes and he orders her to a convent. Heinz fervently entreats the
Emperor to pardon Agnes, and takes a tender farewell of her. On the
point of departing for ever, he sees the three ambassadors, whom he
recognizes and loudly denounces as robbers and swindlers. Boccanera is
obliged to own that his wound came from Junker Heinz, who caught him
stealing sheep. They are led to prison, while the Emperor, grateful to
Heinz for his daughter's delivery from robbers, gives her to him and
makes Heinz Duke of Suabia, persuaded that it is useless to fight
against that which the stars have prophesied.